Book Review: ‘The Lady Of The Mist’ by WC Quick

If you have ever suspected that the ‘happy ever after’ of fairy tales wasn’t actually true? 

This is a dark fantasy sequel to Cinderella that brings with it a very different set of premises than those suggested by the ending of the popular children’s fairy tale. 

Written with dark humour and a strong sense of irony, this is a fairy tale for the cynical and subversive. 

An entertaining short read, ‘Lady Of The Mist’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.  

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Audiobook Review: ‘The King’s Hounds’ by Martin Jensen

‘The King’s Hounds’ is a murder mystery set in Oxford during the reign of King Cnut. An unlikely duo, Winston and Halfdan form a friendship that is still in its early stages when they find themselves assigned the job of investigating the murder and reporting their findings to the king, a task complicated by an abundance of suspects and plenty of obstructions along the way. 

The reader is immersed in the sights and sounds of medieval England, culturally divided between those of Anglo-Saxon and Danish/Viking origins just as Cnut has come to the throne, which places the events of the story in the year of 1016. The resulting climate of distrust and resentment adds further difficulty and intrigue to the case: the king himself is not above suspicion in the death of a prominent Anglo-Saxon thane. 

The characters are very well developed, and are characterised effectively by the narrator. The contrast between the conservative Winston and the rogueish Halfdan creates some entertaining moments, but also enables each of them to play to his strengths when challenged by the various situations and problems they encounter. 

The story is interesting and entertaining, and quite well told. The dialogue is a little stilted at times and not quite consistent with the way people spoke during that period of history, but this may be accounted for by the fact that the book was translated from Danish into English. 

The narration by Napoleon Ryan is noticeably slow, but before I was far into the book, I began to feel that this was something of an advantage, because it gave me time to take in all the detail of the story. 

An enjoyable and interesting book, ‘The King’s Hounds’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

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Book Review: ‘March Blues: A Cat Collier Mystery’ by Carol Ann Kauffman

‘March Blues’ is an engaging and well-paced mystery novella.

The third in Carol Ann Kauffman’s mystery novella series featuring vivacious private investigator Cat Collier, ‘March Blues’ continues the development of the main characters’ stories while Cat investigates some new cases and discovers that not all mysteries are as open and shut as she would like.

While the story is very entertaining, complexity is added by the  issues of trust and integrity and the consequences of choices made in the past that both confront the characters and prompt the reader to think about what their own actions might be in similar circumstances.

An engaging and well paced short read, ‘March Blues’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Treed’ by Virginia Arthur

At the centre of this book is aa old oak tree and the fight to protect it from destruction, yet this is also a story of preservation of memories, friendships and relationships in a world where do much is treated as disposable.

The contrast between commercialIsm and sentimentality is powerful, framed in terms of the battle for the tree, but also brought into sharp focus in the character of Maybelline. She is the link between last and present, the catalyst for the events of the story, and the key figure– other than the tree– around whom this.story revolves.She is likeable, loyal, and has a fun approach to getting older without giving in to becoming elderly.

Maybelline finds herself surrounded by a cast of characters who, although she doesn’t know them well at the start of the story, show her that there is more than one way to become a family.

I really enjoyed this story, but I also value the message from the author: too many trees are cut down, too many forests are destroyed and too many lives are changed irreparably for the sake of greed for money and personal gain. Somewhere along the line, our culture has got its values very wrong.

This is a good read, delivering some valuable messages in a most positive way.

‘Treed’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Pandora’s Matryoshkas’ by Ferdy S.G. Dumel

“You know, a man loves the mystery of woman, but not the moral confusion.”

This is the essence of the situation in which Chris, one of the central characters, finds himself.  Caught in a web of grief, desire and a deepening sense of confusion and frustration, Chris is trapped within that very riddle packed in a mystery, wrapped in an enigma that is both Russia and her women. 

The author effectively captures the reader in the same mysteries that engulf Chris, deepening the reader’s sense of empathy for his situation and heightening the suspicion that Chris will never fully understand what he has gotten himself into.

Although this reader was not entirely satisfied by the conclusion, and my suspicions remain unassuaged, it certainly gave me insights into the different world of Moscow and the vastly different lifestyle of its people to my own. This added to the sense of mystery and intrigue that the story evoked, and heightened my interest in the events of the plot.

Overall, this is a confronting read, quite well-written and intentionally unsettling. It reminds the reader that little in life is ever as straightforward as we think, and that trust is something we tend to do far too easily.

Pandora’s Matryoshkas has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Christmas Miracle on Halloween’ by R.M. Gauthier

Another great instalment in R.M. Gauthier’s holiday themed mystery series.

There are more ghosts from the past than Jack can handle in this sixth book in Gauthier’s lighthearted mystery/romance novella series, which is set in Christmas Town at Halloween.  

This instalment in the series sees the mysteries of Jack’s current case heighten as the secrecy about his investigation is revealed. 

At the same time, Jack finds himself in trouble with Charlotte more than once as questions about family, friends and events of the past come to the surface. A sense of foreboding lands heavily on the reader as Halloween arrives, leaving them to wonder if Jack will really prove able to help Charlotte deal with the parts of her past that haunt her still.

Once again, Gauthier has delivered an enjoyable and lighthearted read, loaded with enough questions to make the reader keep going in the hope of finding answers in the next book in the series. 

Christmas Miracle on Halloween has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Audiobook Review: ‘The Green Pearl Caper: A Damien Dickens Mystery’ by Phyllis Entis

‘The Green Pearl Caper’ is a very enjoyable detective-noir style whodunnit story that keeps the audience guessing right to the end. The narration by Tom Lennon really suits the style of the story, very reminiscent of the black and white private eye movies that used to play on Saturday afternoon TV.

The story is well constructed, developing at a good pace while keeping the reader guessing until the end. There are plenty of characters, both major and minor, who could  be suspects, and the first person perspective of Damien Dickens invites the audience to develop theories and speculate on the evidence as more than an onlooker. 

This was a really engaging audiobook, and I am glad to know there are more in the series. 

‘The Great Pearl Caper’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here